The staff of the British Science Association learnt of the sad news last week that our friend and former colleague, Sue Hordijenko, has passed away.

Sue worked at the BSA for over a decade, overseeing many of the programmes that are still part of the organisation’s portfolio today. Under her leadership, the British Science Festival became known as one of the ‘must-attend’ events in the science engagement calendar, firmly establishing it as Europe’s longest-standing science festival. She also led the growth and national roll out of British Science Week (known as National Science & Engineering Week at the time) where she established meaningful partnerships and alliances with science engagement organisations across the UK.

Sue first joined the BSA in 1999 where she worked on the British Science Festival before moving to the Science in Society team. She briefly left the BSA between 2002 and 2004 to oversee the Darwin Centre programme at the BSA’s next door neighbours, the Natural History Museum. After a couple of years, however, Sue was back at the BSA where she took on the role of Director of Programmes – overseeing the British Science Festival, our regional network and Science in Society portfolio. She remained at the BSA for a further eight years, leaving shortly after the 2013 Festival which was held in Newcastle.

The impact that Sue had on the development of the BSA’s programmes can not be overstated, but she will most fondly be remembered for her supportive and nurturing leadership style, her no-nonsense attitude and her vibrant sense of humour.

Katherine Mathieson, current Chief Executive of the BSA, worked with Sue when they were both Directors at the BSA. She said: “My own memory of Sue is that she was a breath of fresh air. She had a wonderfully distinctive and creative approach to her work, and was passionate about working with scientists to create content that was accessible, relevant, and entertaining. She was an excellent champion for newer colleagues and was never afraid to speak up in support of her colleagues and collaborators.”

Since the BSA learnt of the news of Sue’s passing, we have been collating the memories of our colleagues (both current and former) to share as well.

Sir Roland Jackson, former Chief Executive of the BSA, who worked closely with Sue, said: “She was a superb director of the British Science Festival and many other programmes. One of those generous and larger than life characters who could establish new relationships in new places every year. She was great to work with, no-nonsense, decisive and really supportive of her staff.”

Farrah Nazir, Public Engagement Programme Manager at the Wellcome Trust and formerly British Science Festival Manager, said: “Sue was an incredibly driven, energetic, and inspirational leader who cared deeply about her team and cared about improving the relationship between science and society. Like many, I learnt so much working with Sue – she was an inclusive leader who, in many ways, was ahead of the curve when it came to challenging matters relating to equity, diversity, and inclusion, something Sue modelled right across her work – from her approach to curating the British Science Festival star speaker programme, to her team leadership and management style. I will be forever grateful for having the opportunity to work with Sue and having her as a role model in the science engagement sector.”

Toby Shannon-Smith, former Science in Society Officer at the BSA, said: “Sue had an incredibly generous, friendly personality and a fantastic sense of humour. As a Director at the British Science Association, she was a brilliant, energetic leader and working with her was always great fun. I will always treasure the memories of my time at the BSA and Sue’s infectious laughter is definitely one of the highlights of those memories.”

Dan Richards-Doran, Head of Communications for the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences at University of Oxford, and formerly the manager of National Science & Engineering Week and the BSA's regional programmes, said: “Sue was a wonderful mentor and leader at the BSA, her wisdom and values certainly made a lasting impression with me and I learnt so much while I was working with her. I shall never forget Sue's quick-witted humour and energy, which never failed to put a smile on my face every single day and helped cement such a friendly and supportive workplace culture.”

Louise Ogden, Head of Communications at the BSA, said: "I was lucky enough to be recruited by Sue when I first joined the BSA, and she really supported me through the early years of my career. Her leadership style was nurturing whilst also challenging, and I am very grateful to her for all that I learnt during my time working in her team. I have such fond memories of her quick wit and infectious laughter - she kept us all on our toes! But most of all I'll remember her generosity - she freely gave her time and advice, and she offered unwavering support for her colleagues."

Alice Taylor-Gee, Public Engagement Manager at King's College London and formerly Science in Society Manager, said: "Sue was a wonderful woman, so confident, and fun to be around. She was a great leader and you always felt completely supported by her. She had a big heart and an infectious laugh which I won't forget, helping to make the workplace one of the best places I have worked."

Aoine Wilson, former Head of Development at the BSA, said: "I don’t think anyone who met Sue will forget her – she just had that indefinable quality. I was lucky to work with her at the BSA and to become her friend. To be Sue’s friend meant that she believed in and supported you 100%, which is quite unique in any relationship. Like many, I will miss her so much but feel incredibly fortunate to have known her, if only it could have been for longer."

A fundraising page has been set up in Sue's memory by her friends and neighbours in Lewisham.